Caring for columbines

Beckie Fox

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Columbines (Aqueligia species and hybrids) are an old-fashioned cottage garden perennial, happy to weave here and there among more substantial companions, such as peonies, roses and daylilies. They come and go in my garden, sometimes self-seeding in a spot where, if I had purposely planted one there, it surely would have failed.

Columbine flowers seem to flutter on the tips of strong, wiry stems.

Unfortunately, just as columbines begin to fade, dratted leaf miners start to ravage their foliage. Not all columbines are susceptible to this pest. Judith Adam describes two types — Japanese fan-leaved and Biedermeier — that are seldom attacked. She also explains the lifespan of the leaf miners in “Coping with columbine leaf miners.”

Celebrating Garden Days, June 13-21

Most garden tours and events were scuttled by COVID-19 this year, but Garden Days, a program of the Canadian Garden Council, is carrying on, albeit with a different focus.

Instead of promoting garden tours and large community events, Canadian gardeners are encouraged to spend time in their own gardens and in public gardens, as well as share images through social media, using the hashtags #gardentime and #gardendayscanada. (According to the website, there will be prizes.)

“We believe that this time, during the pandemic, is Canada’s sweet spot for gardens,” according to national spokespersons Mark and Ben Cullen. “Garden Days is your chance to celebrate the gardening experience with us.”

Debunking garden myths

Garden practices we’ve followed for years can be comforting and routine — your aunt buried banana peels and grew beautiful roses or your dad always planted crops based on the phases of the moon —  and we seldom question their efficacy. Are the positive results a coincidence or science-based?

Some garden myths don’t do any real harm, but they may be a waste of money or time. Others may be more problematic to plants or the environment.

For the curious, check out Garden Myths, by Emma Murphy, on the Peterborough and Area Master Gardeners website. There’s also the aptly named and thought-provoking GardenMyths website that debunks quite a few favourites.

Watering advice and research

We’re in the midst of a lawn renovation project (more about that in a future newsletter), which means consistent watering is required as the lawn seed germinates. Monitoring soil moisture is always part of a gardener’s responsibilities. Garden Professors has a good post, Water Wise Gardening:  Conserving and Irrigating Responsibly.

Advice for basil lovers

From Niki Jabbour’s Twitter account, a practical basil tip. Find more details on Savvy Gardening.

basil cuttings
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